Zuhayras, Heart of the World (Karanduun Setting)
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The Colony of Zuhayras
The Colony of Zuhayras is the heart of the world. It is the ultimate nexus of all things in creation, and a dark secret boils at its depths. The diwata whispers its ancient name -- the Islands of Sanlibutang Ikiran. In modern times it became to be known as the Thousand Islands, before Al-Kaig subdued it to its divine will and turned it into Zuhayras.
Geography and Climate
The Islands of Zuhayras expand across the most of the center of the world, with the other closest landmass being the Lakungdulan Island to the West, the Tabun island to the north, and the Continent of Kat-jja to the Near East. There are approximately six thousand islands according to the latest Census of the Emperor.
With its strategic location smack dab in the center of the world, it is a prime spot for cultural mixing, which it has indeed become. With the solid base of Lakungdulan tradition mixed with Giro’jji invention and Al-Kaigian ideas, Zuhayras has become the most “modern” of all the Lands in Sanlibutan
The climate usually ranges from Humid hot to Humid wet. It is a constant state of humidity here, basically requiring the wearing of silk and light clothings. Near the last three months of the 12 month cycle, however, Zuhayras experiences Dry Cold, although not as cold as the Isles of Tabun or Hosk-Edur, or the Far East. Farming and agriculture as well as fishing are the most common native exports here, as well as having the greatest natural supply of the five divine materials (Dalisay, Platino, Tanso, Pilak, and Bakal-Anino). Lately many of the barangays have become turned into factories for mass manufacturing silk, oil, grain, and also diwa energy.
The four weathers here are usually dictated by heat and wetness. In a 12 month year, which is before dictated by harvests, but with the invention of the Saviarian Calendar, it has since become codified, the first two months is the Season of Falling Leaves, which are the coldest of the months and also the season with the second least amount of rains. The next five months are the Season of Rising Flames, which are when the Isles begin to warm, and water becomes a bit scarce eventually ending in the season of purest heat, with little to no rain. The next six are the Season of Storming Waters, which begin with the humid wet season and eventually ending in numerous storms and typhoons which usually form from the Southeast, which is where the massive Ocean of Dagat wraps around the world.
The people of Zuhayras were originally the people of the bamboo that moved east. These people learned how to craft advanced maritime technology, adopting cannons, warships known as karakoa, and becoming trained pirates. When Makkalo, the First King, rose up from Liway (Liway is the large island to the West of the Thousand Islands) and conquered the Thousand Islands, the already fractured people of the Thousand Islands toiled in eternal unrest, for they did not like having someone over them.
Eventually the Empire of Al-Kaig arrived on their shores, and brought with them the Word of Yavum and the Sword of Truth. At this time, the people of the Thousand Islands have already traded much with the free Empire of Giro'jji, leading to much racial mixture, as well as harbored Kivhran refugees. Despite that, because of the harsh politics in Liway, the religion of Dayawan did not have as strong a hold as it did in Liway. Partly because of geographic limits (oversea travel being inherently harder than overland travel, although the Thousand Islands people are exponentially better than the Liwayan people at traveling over sea), and because of the lack of unification. Each barangay was a polity unto itself, with its own laws and own beliefs. A Thousand Islands made up of a thousand million peoples. That is, until the Empire of Al-Kaig disseminated the teachings of Yavum.
The first island conquered was outside the Makkalan Lakandoms sphere of influence - Ugad. The Lakungdulans there fought back against Marid’s expedition, led by the Dayawan Prince Delayu, who won. Marid’s expedition eventually returned and brought with them a large galleon fleet, including the now renowned Saffida binti Paleogia.
They arrived at the Northern Isles and converted the powerful Datu Kiskisang Sinag, who then gathered his barangay and fought under the Al-Kaigian Empire. It is said that Datu Kiskisang Sinag actually fought against the Al-Kaigian Explorers and defeated them, killing a navigator Mallius de Forfed. It wasn’t long until the Priest of the Explorer ship, Brother Owl, taught them of the Yavuman belief, which the Datu found to be better and align with his polity’s beliefs better than Dayawan. And so, the Al-Kaigian Empire gained a foothold. In a matter of a few years, the Polity of Datu Kiskisang Sinag (whose name was changed to Sinag de Ibis) expanded and the Al-Kaigian Empire with the large polity of Sinag conquered the Thousand Islands in the name of Emperor Zuhayr.
The Conquest Efforts of Agidyo lasted from 955 to 992, with the Makkalan Lakandom being a worthy opponent against the Empire of Al-Kaig. Indeed, halfway through the Conquest Efforts, the Al-Kaigian Empire would’ve failed, if it were not for the various Agidyao Peoples converting into Yavuman and following their tenets, and lending their military aid. If it weren’t for Datu Sinag.
The fact that the Makkalan Kingdom suffered political infighting on its last few years thanks to the failure of Lakan Makkasa has certainly contributed to the Conquest Success.
At 1070, most of Thousand Islands save for the north-east quarter has been conquered, and was under the name of Zuhayras Islands, becoming an Archipelago Colony for Al-Kaig. The Zuhayras Colony was then solidified with trade and the creation of various cities and trade routes. The notorious Thousand Islands Forests were conquered with a mix of technological prowess and spiritual aid from the Katalonan who helped the Al-Kaigians, blazing paths through the forest and finally creating land travel. Horses became prominent in the islands as well after more trading, where before they were only popular in Liway and Tabun.
Various highland areas became settlements and cities, whereas coastal areas became trading ports and nexuses. Notable cities are:
- The Metropolis of Indigo, a gigantic metropolis made up of almost race and the Capital of the Colony Empire. The sheer size of it has caused Al-Kaig to lose grip on its capital city and many other races that the Al-Kaigians would sneer at have now become permanent societies. It is made up of Seven Cities, of which Sanctuary is part of it. The seven cities are thus: Sanctuary, Issario, Thunderbell, Afirian, Okkosias, De Sandrio, and Si Setanta.
- Sanctuary City, situated as a Coastal City and the main city of the Indigo Metropolis.
- Firada, situated in the Island of Dawa to the North, in a valley covered by two large mountain ranges.
- Stormfront, situated in the northwest island of Atlu, furthest from Sanctuary, and created on top of a plateau. Living conditions here are notably colder and harsher. The Zuhayrans here share the plateau with the native Akatan People, living higher up the mountain, whom the Zuhayrans didn’t bother to subjugate. Their relations are not exactly amicable.
- Cathedra, in the Western Island of Leogia, named after Saffida. Cathedra holds the largest Arcanum College and Church, headed by the Jeremian Priests who followed after the Great Prophet and Philosopher, Jerem. They are in constant combat with the T’Kapians.
- Crosspost, to the west of the island of Osa, acting as a large trade hub city and a nexus for traveling to other parts of the Archipelago. A daambakal line, or a steel railway, has been constructed to facilitate quicker shipment of goods and oil and steel between the Indigo Metropolis and Crosspost.
The Legacy of Saffida
Saffida binti Paleogia was well known for being the “Conquerer-Queen” of the Thousand Islands Isles, using much of her empathic abilities to coerce many of the (already willing) natives to turn to the Yavuman Religion. Born in 907th Year of Yavum’s Slumber, she was born into a royal family before her name was tarnished in poltics, and she was sent to the gutter, where she worked in the various carpentry and engineering professions while disguised as a man, before enlisting into the fourth Imperial Legion, where she displayed exemplary military and tactical prowess. Before long, the Imperial General of the Valencia Satrap, Atzazio de Kasseen, recognized her after seven years of service and promoted her to Prefect Status, before revealing her true identity. Thanks to the political power being a Prefect Status is -- and with her being personally raised by the Imperial General himself, who had a high rank in the Imperial Senate -- many of the Al-Kaigians had to live with the revelation.
She was the head spear going into the conquest efforts of Lakungdula. It is rumored that the Senate and Emperor did this so that she would be far away from the Mainland.
Her great granddaughter, Ignazi binti Katala now leads the Reconquista against the Atlu-Lakan Polity. It is rumored that she eventually married a Lakungdulan and that all her descendants are of mixed descent.
What's with all the '-as'?
The suffix -as in the Al-Kaigian vocabulary usually meant “owner of”. Thus many estates in the empire have -as in the end to signify to whom the estate belongs to. (Ie. Maridas, Sayyadas, Aesias).
The Colony is governed by the Emperor of Al-Kaig, Yunus, through the Six-Man senate known as the “Archipelagian Council”, which created laws, heard supplications, and deliberated on administration. The Governor-General (formally known as a Talon in a Serpent Council) is then the direct representation of Yunus, with the current Governor-General being Ignazi binti Katala. The Seat of Power is in Selorong in Liway for the time being, having been moved from Sanctuary, seemingly because of the reconquista efforts. Ignazi is notable for being the first Islander to become Governor-General, and as such she is under close scrutiny of the Archipelagian Council. The Governor-General is in command of the navy and military, as well as the economic planning and the Head Magister of the Royal Audience of Zuhayras (the Supreme Court of the colony).
The various sections of land within Zuhayras are split into pacified provinces known as “alkadium (singular) or alkadia (plural)”, the settlements upon which the Al-Kaigians place natives (and those Al-Kaigians who travel to the Colony). Heading those are the Alkadi. Unpacified military lands (near the Native Lakandoms and those struggling from T’Kapian assault and the outer rims of the Zuhayras Isles) are known as “corregimientos”, headed by Corregidores, chief magistrates of unpacified lands and head of the military efforts there. The classes within the colonial empire are split between the nobles, the congregation, the freemen, and the slaves.
The towns are called pueblos, and are headed by “Don” or “Donya”. Every town was split down into even smaller governments known as barangay -- as copied from the old villages of the natives -- headed by a cabeza, which was the senate of the pueblo. One notable aspect of the cabeza is that they are all part of the noble ruling class, known as the Principalia, and they are actual descendants of datus and tumao of the barangays before the coming of the Al-Kaigians. They have the same job and exert the same authority, which smoothed the Al-Kaigian conquest because of the quick and efficient application of the colony government.
To the natives, this system is a dark perversion of their original class system. The slaves were slaves, and treated with malice. The freemen were basically slaves to the congregation. The Congregation themselves seem to be the most powerful among the classes.
Al-Kaigians are almost always principalia, and are further split into two classes -- the Mainlanders (that is, Al-Kaigians that were born in the motherland [the peninsula of Kivhra]) and Islanders (those born in the Archipelago). Although officially they are equal, there is prejudice against the Islanders by the Mainlanders. Most high positions in the Empire are only attainable by Mainlander Al-Kaigians, which has wrought some wrath from the growing number of Islander Al-Kaigians.
Especially rich Principalia usually have large manors of their own, made in clearings of towns or in islands that they have bought on their own, having their own private military and business. This phenomenon is not restricted to rich Principalia, but also to rich merchants and traders, especially Giroans and Zuhayran-Giroan mixed bloods (known as Mestizo de Giro).
Recently, with the rise of literate and educated men and women, a new social class has cropped up. The Illumined are the class poorer than the noble-blooded Principalia, but more educated and richer than the common man. The illumined became fighters and writers, and the promise of revolution against Al-Kaig has begun to broil under the sewage streets of Sanctuary.
Also recently, thanks to the new industrialization of various commodities, the invention of the printing press, and the Elemental Engine which uses particular Diwa essences to power technology such as power armor, automata, the Daambakal, lighting grids, telephones, and other new technology. The method of gaining these Diwa essences is long, however, needing the coaxing of Diwa from Dambanas (sacred sites, both altars and natural formations such as holy waterfalls and mountains) with the usage of Katalonan, or the ritual known as Siphoning from natural sources.
The Al-Kaigians have found an easier way, however, and one that works with the speedy industrialization of the world: the various Diwata are made of Diwa. It is their corpus, their physical corporeal form is made of it...
The Al-Kaigians have “Diwata-Harvester” as a very lucrative job in its Industrial Revolution.
In addition, the residue created from using this Diwa is released into the air, and takes a very long time to seep back into nature. Thusly, it is causing an imbalance in nature, which is causing the engkanto to roar in fury. Rebellion brews in the Seven Cities. It is only a matter of time.
Other than Selorong, Zuhayras is a hub for trade, specifically Sanctuary and Crosspost, along with the four other main cities of the Colonial Empire, where they traded using galleons with the various races across Sanlibutan. The most notable of this is the Phaedrus Galleon Trade of the Royal Al-Daniado Trading Guild, which has trade routes to almost every known world country, and has established a foothold in Liway through Selorong, and Zuhayras through Sanctuary. Through this, various commodities and trade goods were introduced to Lakungdula, such as various cloths and fruits (such as avocado), as well as the introduction of riding horses that could be used to travel great distances quickly, which eventually led to the creation of the kalesa. Despite this, the usage of carabao only strengthened, as land trade and travel became more important, carabao wagons saw more and more use. Weapons and newer technologies were also traded, of which the Lakungdulans weren’t surprised by since the Makkalan Lakandom’s technologies have since surpassed them.
The Zuhayran Colonial Capital is located in the great Metropolis of Indigo, a great and large city chained together by the Metropolitan Train System, or the Daambakal, which winds through each of the cities. The Metropolis of Indigo is made up of seven interlocking cities, each one of them under the Governor-General of Zuhayras. The Cities are: Sanctuary, Issario, Thunderbell, Afirian, Okkosias, De Sandrio, and Si Setanta.
Within the Metropolis of Indigo is the city of Sanctuary, which is right by the harbor. It is a large walled city made up of different sectors, large enough to be an island on its own. Sanctuary grows larger and richer as you go towards the middle. Shantytowns lie outside like scabs on its gray wall. The Headquarters of the Inquest can be found in this great metropolis.
Sanctuary also has no real floors, instead being made up of complex and large walkways, metal mixed with narrawood. The bottom of Sanctuary is simply the sea, whereas the part of Sanctuary that is above shore is covered in sluice streets and is the poorest part of the city. Sanctuary has become the main nexus for trade, and everything passes by this large metropolis.
Lately, the Office of the Governor General has been moved to the Harbor Trade City of Selorong, to the West of Liway, wherein they are attempting to launch an attack against the Warring Kedatuans.
The City of Issario within the Metropolis of Indigo is widely known as the river city, as it is mostly stationed around the city that cuts through most of the Metropolis, the Hinatuan. Issario is the city of both thieves, merchants, and con men, the boundary and distinction of which becomes intentionally blurry within it. Noteworthy places are the Sampaguita Scents Shop which is run by an albularyo tamawo named Plantasya, who is running on five hundred years old. Within the Sampaguita Scents you can get every herb you want, even those that are more... psychoactive in nature, and is largely used by practicing mangkukulam and albularyo within the metropolis. Sampaguita Scents is also a well-known brothel that offers non-human services, which has become popular to thrill-seeking boys and girls and... priests.
Most popular about the City of Issario is the Hinatuan Floating Market. This is largely illegal as the colonial government has issued a decree that trading 'on' the river or on the riverbanks is now banned. However, with the recent reconquista effots and the hold of the Merchant Lords of Issario, this is obviously not heeded. All sorts of things one might not usually find within markets can be found in the Floating Market -- salvage from the Golden Age of Heroes that might or might not work, prosthetics built from hodgepodge corpses, coins that always teleport back into your hand, horse saddles that never fall off the horse, and other such trinkets and wondrous items.
In addition to this, the City of Issario is the City of Services. Need a mercenary to protect your caravan? There are almost five mercenary bars in one street. Need to speak to a deceased loved one? Necromancers (or as they like to call themselves, katalonan) double work as fortune tellers within the floating boat-buildings. Your arm cut off and you need a replacement? Several aghimuan savants offer their services for a premium, but their replacement prosthetics are built off of the scrollworkings of Golden Age machinations.
The City of Issario is the City of Gold and Grime. Whether the gold will be pyrite or not is up for you to decide.
The City of Thunderbell is perhaps the most anomalous. To the far northwest, furthest from the City of Sanctuary and the seat of governmental power, much of the non-human Souled Races have come from outside the metropolis and have created their own communities within the city alongside humans. Much of the Civil Guard don't bother or are even compliant with the nonhuman races of Thunderbell, mostly because of a mix of monetary influence as well as the sheer power of the nonhuman races that have amassed with, as well as the reconquista efforts that have just begun and have siphoned away military power from the metropolis.
It rests at the outer limits of the Indigo Metropolis and thusly it rests against the great Brass Wall of Indigo. Upon the brass walls rests various houses made up of conglomerate materials, such as recycled brass, galvanized steel, rattan and abaca fiber, and even tree sap. Within these shantytowns that resemble hives are various human and nonhuman races. Among the humans are mostly those that are already socially outcast, or have decided to live alongside their other nonhuman brethren.
According to pure geographics, Thunderbell is the largest of the Seven Cities. Two large rivers converge in the midst of Thunderbell, the Sajan (sa-Han) River to the west, and the Kalawan River to the East. They converge into the large Hinatuan River. Interestingly enough, the River stays clean for the most part, and has only become dirtied as it enters into the City of Issario.
There is a community of nonhuman races here that do not follow the usual flow of things. Tamawo and Lipod are in odds with each other in political games, reminiscent of feudal lords that hold various portions of the urbanscape. The palesekan live in the little pocks of trees, along with the kapre. Most tamawo hire palesekan as elegant singer-courtesans and assassins. Sarangay become holed up in their large houses. Kapre tend to be hired as musclemen. Garuda live on the tops of the brazen walls, and are in good terms with the lipod. The Naga that live here are more docile, less nationalistic, and are more or less harmonious with the rest of the people. The monolithic power of the Naga no longer exists in Thunderbell, after all, and so most Naga live alone and work on their own. Duwende live in underground cities as well. Up the river the shantytowns of Thunderbell are commonly assaulted by the siyokoy tribes to the north.
Buildings in Thunderbell are a weird cultural mix of all the races, but are mostly a weird brass-leaf conglomerate that does not blend well with the rest of the cities. Great shantytowns kept together by magical sap and lit up by spiritual fire are stacked on top of each other creating great architectural complexes that reach the height of the hundred foot tall brazen wall.
The City of Thunderbell, once named for the military unit that created the first settlement here against the hinterlands, has now become the hub for nonhuman races to live and thrive when they are cast out of their own prospective cultures.
Barangays always have a plaza in the middle of them, which was adopted from Al-Kaigian culture. This is the place for merrymaking and masses and special fiestas. It is not uncommon to find larger buildings near the plazas and the commoner buildings near the outskirts of a barangay, where the rice paddies can be found. Here they hold all the fiestas that differ from region to region.
The infrastructure of Zuhayras is very similar to the mandala structure of the Lakungdulans, with a main body of government being the center of a society. In Zuhayras case, this is Sanctuary. The further one gets from Sanctuary, the less the overbearing influence of Al-Kaigian colonialism and the more influence of the native cultures intermingling with colonially introduced concepts. Many Katalonan and albularyo have become literate in both reading and writing, writing down their concepts and learnings on paper. Many Datu (now part of the Principalia) have since written their polity’s laws. In the furthest corners of the political mandala, one can find Datu attending masses of Yavuman priests, and Yavuman priests who are tattooed from head to toe.
Lately there has been a cabal of literate Katalonan who have begun to transcribe old myths, legends, folklore, and religious texts into books. Another cabal of scholars and historians, a mix of Zuhayran and Al-Kaigian, have begun to record various Scripts indigenous to the islands so as to preserve them.
But not everything is beneficial. Corruption and racial prejudice from Mainlander Al-Kaigians against Islander Al-Kaigians abound. Al-Kaigians call the natives of the land “Umbres”, shadows, or little. Or little shadows. A derogatory term for the farmers and mountain folk. The Al-Kaigians don’t revere the nature and society of the diwata and anito, disrespecting all that they had known. Al-Kaigians missionaries and priests are prone to killing farmers and stealing from them, raping women and children.
The Administration itself is capitalizing on the prime spot for trading and the rich natural resources of the islands for riches, and they have been becoming rich. It is well known that they are preparing resources for a massive war with the Dragon Empire of Qirong. The “umbres” are not allowed onto the Administration at all, which has sparked outrage. Even the Middle Class Illumined people and the Islander Al-Kaigians have been barred from positions of power. They were powerless.
And with the creation of the Elemental Engine and the faster creation of things, the Industrial Revolution upon the Metropolis and Al-Kaig as a whole, men of business and intelligence combat the men of wisdom and science to create more and more businesses and capitalizations. Kalesa businesses, businesses to create better books, the business of power. Children are routinely forced into labor, shoveling calcified Diwa into the Elemental Engines, suffering face on the debilitating effects of being exposed to too much natural spiritual power.
Most of the children and the poor that are used for free labor come home -- if they have a home -- blind, their tongues split in two, their hair now green or writhing as grass, or having lost all of their limbs, all thanks to the mutating effect of too much raw Diwa.
Diwa used to power the Metropolis.
Prejudice, corruption, and exploitation. A vicious cycle.
This would not stand, the Triad Gods of War -- Yna Guinida, Makanduk, and Barangaw -- had said once to a small barrio. The Zuhayrans had taken all that they needed from the Al-Kaigians. It is time to reclaim the land, they said.
Zuhayras, they said, shall be free.
Wait, Serpent Council?
The Senate of the Al-Kaigian administration is known as the Serpent Council, headed by a Head (usually the Emperor, or one of his Viziers). The second highest are the Fangs, which are the Viziers themselves, who also act as the head of the Supreme Council. The third highest are the Talons, usually heads of Provinces and Colonies (of which the Exarch is one). Below them are the Heads or their Representations of each of the Royal Houses. This Senate deliberates on administration and other such activities, and usually hold meetings once a month.
Races in Zuhayras
All forms of races -- human, demi-human, and engkanto -- all exist in societies within the seven cities of the Metropolis of Indigo. The richest cities – most notably, Si Setanta and De Sandrio – have the highest density of humans, and they tend to be only mystiso or mystisa, or only Al-Kaigians. There is a distinct class divide when it comes to these cities. Si Setanta itself has its own private military organization, provided by one of the richest families within: the Hamsa Family. The Hamsa has provided the Azure Guard to protect Si Setanta, and also any other organization or even city should they have the price. The Azure Guard are known to have the highest of military technology, and can bust out power armor if needed.
The other races (and the workers, and the poor people that have arisen out of industrialization) have found refuge in the various other cities within the Indigo Metropolis. It should be noted that outside the Metropolis, the races are scarcer to find, mostly because most of the alkadia are owned and privately seen over by Al-Kaigian nobles, which means they can oversee what races are within their purview or not. Under Al-Kaigian rule, harmony with other races have almost vanished, beginning with the demonization of the other races.
Anakyawa are known as abhorrent perversions of Yavum’s rightful vision for the canvas of humanity, and are thus shunned. The engkanto races are demonized – the tamawo are fallen angels that use beguiling beauty to steal you away into their trees and kill you in your sleep or while you are ravished. The palesekan are forest demons that sing tunes of hell and rip you apart piece by piece and attach your limbs to soil, which eventually grow into grotesque flesh trees. Duwende are earth demons that cause you diseases and rashes and should be killed to prevent this. Tikbalang are tricksters – only tricksters – and one should never go into the forest during night lest they find one of the tikbalang and become ravished. The tikbalang are demons that prefer women to rape and kill. The sarangay are bull-headed demons that live in forest groves waiting for god-abiding men and women to cross, and then they kill them, turning them into jewels that they add to their collection. Garuda are barbaric winged demons that raid and kill those in the barangay, especially those after it is sleeping time, or those that did not go to weekly mass. Kapre are nothing but black demons that smoke too much, and can only be useful for manual labor.
All of these sound like propaganda, and they are. These are all attempts to demonize the various races that have grown into harmony veer since the Apocalypse. Of course, this never stopped the humans that knew the truth from intermingling with them. As of late, entire cities – most notably Thunderbell, which is farthest from Si Setanta and Sanctuary – have entirely mixed races, and even the Metropolitan Guard have become amiable to them within Thunderbell. The city itself is reviled and avoided by most Al-Kaigians, although they do send special forces to crack down on crimes and rebellions, and a lot of the waste from kapnayan experiments are dumped onto Thunderbell, with the slightest intent of poisoning the entire city.
Of course, the city is made up of magical creatures, those that can cleanse waters. But the people of Thunderbell are not stupid – they know that if they stage a full-scale rebellion, they would be crushed by the Al-Kaigian War Machine. And so, they wait. Patiently.
The language of those that live in the Thousand Islands are few and far between. Each major polity (of which there were around thirty-three) had their own language and culture, and it wasn’t until the Al-Kaigians swept over the land that they were all unified to speak Zuhayran (which was based on the language of Datu Kiskisang Sinag’s polity). This language gradually evolved to become Zuhayran, which became the lingua franca. Since the time before Zuhayras was mostly an oral culture, and the Al-Kaigians only encountered one writing system which belonged to a neighboring Barangay, the barangay of Datu Sinukuang Agila. When Datu Sinag’s barangay conquered the barangay Agila, the Al-Kaigians immediately recorded their script, which they call Kidlat (their word for lightning), which was the first word they made a character for, which eventually evolved into an abugida language after they tried to spell other words and failed. (The character for Kidlat now corresponds to the syllable “ki”). The Al-Kaigians found that Kidlat perfectly fit the language of Datu Kiskisang, and decided to adopt that for dissemination, since it fit the native’s language better than theirs. They also introduced a handful of new characters and markings to enhance the precision of the writing.
Only the educated or those who live in the city know how to speak Al-Kaigian. Because of this, the language has since become associated with pride and privilege. Writing Al-Kaigian is different from speaking it, usually, and only those with formal education actually know how to read the Al-Kaigian alphabet.
Travel between the thousand islands are usually facilitated by boat rides, which have been turned into businesses by the seafaring natives who have mastered the art of sea-travel even before the Al-Kaigians came. Overland travel was scarce before the arrival of the Al-Kaigians, but have since been changed with the introduction of horses from the north and raptors from the east.
In the mountain regions have come the famed Bannog Riders, those who ride and tame huge god-birds that lord over the mountains. These Bannog Riders are widely sought after and are usually brought back to become military men in the Al-Kaigian Military.
Within cities, the usage of the horse and the kalesa (horse-drawn carriages) were the most prominent. Raptors within cities were seen as weird, but not out of the blue.
The Colonial Administration has access to relic-tech, giving them access to the brass skyships powered by perpetual sorceries.
Before the Al-Kaigians arrived the people of the Thousand Islands adopted the Dayawan religion. The Polity of Datu Sinag has always upheld a Supreme Being over the other Diwata, which became the cause of his conversion to Yavuman. But the foundation of Dayawan is not lost, and still shines through even in the colonial religion.
Zuhayras has adopted the Yavuman Faith, but has twisted it so that it fits the things that they find true and have believed in since the beginning: the truth of the diwata and the anito. Belief in a Supreme Being is easy, and thus easily captured. The fear of maligno was only intensified with the coming of Yavuman, which associated darkness with evil. This was also a useful tactic for the Priests that sought to keep their flock both safe and controlled.
For the Zuhayrans, they believed in a Supreme Deity (which they’ve come to call Maykapal), and that he had angels to serve him in Heaven. But they also believed that the Anito are the spirits of their ancestors that answer to Maykapal. So do the Diwata, which can be found in every natural place, all being lower deities when compared to Maykapal, and he ruled over them from above. This is a perversion of Yavuman teachings, because the only supernatural beings in Yavuman belief is Yavum himself and his angels, along with those that rebelled.
Maykapal is also worshipped to be the lord of all anito, sending them off to various deeds to help their descendants.
Maligno are now deemed Demons, and are said to be controlled by Sitan, the Keeper of the Dead. Every other deity had been either turned into low-ranking Diwata or demonized, as was the modus of Yavuman Priests.
Magic is now wholly associated with witchcraft and evil, despite there being a lot more nuance to it. Only Yavuman-approved sorcery is taught, which includes the Astral Academy of Salamangka in Sanctuary.
Despite this, Kulam and Barang are all equally practiced, and the calling upon other entities for powers have evolved from just having Dayawan beings to also having Yavuman beings, and the combination of ingredients and prayers to Yavum in the Kivhran tongue (although those that did their research still use Diwatan for the most genuine effect) for their rituals.
The usage has had a drop off recently, but has since returned with the usage of gold-carved Usbong. Usbong before the Al-Kaigians came are known to be the idols and sacred images that the natives worshipped.
Along with this, the usage of a Deck of Cards for reading fate and fortune was popularized within the isles, which combined the usage of reading through various different mediums as well as imagery inherited from Al-Kaigian myth and stories. The Deck of Cards, which was called “Tadhana”, for the old Diwatan word for Fate, was made up of:
1. Angel (Biraddali) 2. World (Kalibutan) 3. Sun (Adlaw) 4. Moon (Bulan) 5. Star (Suga) 6. Lightning (Linti) 7. Devil (Saragnayan) 8. Death (Sui-dapa) 9. Traitor (Rebelde) 10. Bishop (Pamahres) 11. Wheel (Gulong) 12. The Three War Gods (Barangaw, Yna Guinida, Makanduk) 13. Justice (Katarungan) 14. Temperance (Timpian) 15. Sword (Kampilan) 16. Love (Dihan-Ma-Salanta) 17. Four Natives (Tagabundok) 18. Magician (Salamangkero)
Each one having different meanings depending on placement and on where they were put. Those that practice card reading are held in the same regard as Mangkukulam.
Every tenth day of the month, Zuhayrans go to mass, where they are taught the tenets and truths of Yavum. If an Al-Kaigian Mainlander were to listen to a chapel preceding in the countryside, they’ll find that it looks and feels differently from those from the city -- they are not teaching the true teachings of Yavum, but rather, are teaching the Zuhayran Folk Yavuman that the Zuhayrans have built for themselves.
Despite this, much of the original Dayawan Gods are now lost and/or have been demonized. Many have said that they have encountered the Gods themselves, the Apo, doing their usual duties despite the loss of worship, and have expressed their sadness at what has happened. But more of them express that something is not right with Al-Kaig itself. And even more express the broiling contempt and rage of those subjugated to Al-Kaigian rule.
The religion of the Giroans have also been transported to the Zuhayran Colony, leading to a rise of Qirong-mideumians and Omists. The religion of the Balaarians and the Bakhthir Desert Nomads have also arrived through way of T’Kapian travel as well as trade from the Balaarian City-State of Effisia. The Balaarians have introduced more ways of interacting with technology, as well as more ways of reading the stars, and the Bakhthir have introduced an epic form of writing that seems to have worked in parallel with the oral epics of the Lakungdulans.
The Karanduun are mysterious and new, and not much mentioned in the Yavuman Texts, save for the quick story of the “Angels that fell from Grace because of Rebellion”. The Emperor has deemed them to be “Dukes of Hell” and have created a specific branch of the Church -- the Inquest -- focused on eliminating the Dukes (alongside other maligno and Aswang beasts).
Mostly though, any given person wouldn’t know what they are, and usually will either classify them as an angel or a demon depending on the context of their meeting. In outer regions, they are classified as Engkanto or Diwata when they are seen showcasing their Halo, and the outside people often mistake them for Saint-Kings.
Most architecture were either stone structures for those living in the northern islands near Tabun, or those living in the Mountains/Plateaus. One popular building found by the Al-Kaigians were the Hill Stone Forts, that is, large stone fortified fortresses built upon hills, only found in the farthest of the northern islands. It is speculated that these Forts actually came from Tabun, which the Al-Kaigians have yet to penetrate.
Before the coming of the Al-Kaigians, the architecture was mostly cultural and different. Those that lived in islands usually had ships that could work as houses. The most common type of housing is the nipa hut, or the bahay kubo, with thatched roofs and wooden walls and bamboo slat floors. The torogan, a house made of stone that usually housed Maginoo and the Datu classes were popular as well, and have actually survived until the coming of the Al-Kaigians. Longhouses have also seen use as well.
When the Al-Kaigians came, they brought with them their architecture, creating brick and cement houses with wooden windows, but the usage of the nipa hut has always been in use, and never really went out of style for barrios outside the larger cities and barrios. Farmers usually stuck to nipa huts as well, which are cheaper to construct and are effective against the constant monsoons.
With the arrival of the Al-Kaigians they introduced a number of new architecture, notably the cathedral, the large buildings, and the first few locomotives, as well as the horse-driven kalesa. The Smoke Rail Locomotive is the first locomotive to have been finished and is mostly used for transporting goods and a small number of passengers rich enough to pay for it. The Smoke Rail starts from Sanctuary and ends at Crosspost.
Surely one of the most impressive structures is the Inquest Cathedral in Sanctuary. A large edifice with gothic embellishments, baroque architecture made with the highest beauty. A large convent that stands half the height of the great Sanctuary wall.
Sanctuary itself is an architectural wonder -- shanty towns and houses built atop each other in a neverending stack, held in place by suspension bridges, never taken over by the sea below.
Zuhayras’ standing military is the Al-Kaigian Army, but the latest Governer-General has begun to conduct investigations and probes into an apparent revolutionary army being garnered underground.
The Zuhayran branch of the Yavuman Army is constructed of two halves, each filled up of 5 legions. The first half is the Military Half, the ones tapped upon by the Colonial Administration for conquests and protection. Each legion is composed of 1,000 to 2,000 men, a mix of heavy and light infantry. Special emphasis is put upon naval warfare in the 4th and 5th Zuhayran Legions, each which is led by a Principalia who used to belong in thalassocratic polities -- Datu Kayaan, now known as Marshal Kayaan Servante, and Datu Gibo, now known as Marshal Gibo Saralian. The 4th Legion, led by Marshal Kayaan, is also a widely feared for its irregular combat strategies, with the usage of natural terrain and guerilla tactics. It is said that various conquest efforts from Effisia have been thwarted thanks to them.
The 5th Legion, led by Marshal Gibo, is known as the “Tiburones” Legion, because they are like flying sharks in the sea. They have repelled various pirates from T’Kapian lands and invaders from the Far East -- the Qirong Empire.
The warriors of Classical Zuhayras find this to be a new thing, for most of their military adventures had been a band of men with swords, fighting for honor, glory, or vengeance. They were well adapted to their environment, lending themselves to guerilla warfare, but strategy was more or less lost. The only strategy they needed was the intimate knowledge of their surroundings and their oneness with nature. This gives the Zuhayrans a significant advantage when fighting in their home base, so much so that that the adage that “Yavum was only allowed into the Heart of the World because he was allowed” (an almost heretical saying) is largely considered to be true.
Each Legion is split into 12 companies, which were further divided into subdivisions known as different subdivisions. The foot infantry known as the pangil, the cavalry unit known as the kawalerya (which have their own subunit of elite bannog riders known as “Sakay-hari”), and heavy infantry known as “Baluti”. The 4th and 5th legions have their own elite naval subdivions known as the “Pating”.
Pangil, otherwise meaning “Fang” in native Zuhayran, are made up of 20 - 30 people. These companies were usually made up of a mix of land infantry -- pikemen, musketeers, swordsmen, and arquebusiers, using their pneumatic riflings.
A special unit in every Legion, separate from a javelin, is a unit known as a “Maharlika”. A maharlika is a social class in Lakungdula and Pre-Colonial Zuhayras that functioned similarly to a knight and usually had better physical prowess. A maharlika unit is usually made up of able-bodied natives well-trained in the art of the native weapons, and were usually trump cards against enemies, with their knowledge of the environment. Marshals would even go so far as to say that they were blessed by nature itself. The 4th Legion is notable in that they have a total of 20 Maharlika Units spread across their companies. Most of the men of this unit are tattooed from head to toe, as their native culture had expressed them to do.
The kawalerya division is the cavalry unit, made up mostly of horses and raptors (which were an earlier introduction because Giroans have traded with Zuhayrans before the arrival of the Al-Kaigians). These were usually used within the larger islands of Osa, Dawa, Atlu and Leogia, or outside of the islands themselves. They have become important in the Conquest of Lakungdula, because of the Lakungdulans usage of elephant mounts.
A special subunit known as the Sakay-hari unit permeate the skies and see more use, but are more rare. They are riders of great god-birds known as bannog, which are large enough to pick up karabaws. Sakay-hari are usually not brought out save for the most dire of circumstances, and are usually accompanied by Al-Kaigian Skyships. Whispers broil beneath the skin of Zuhayras: much of the Sakay-hari have become part of the inner rebellion.
The heavy infantry of Baluti are usually made up of heavily armored men, with large chainmails with karabaw leather hide armor overneath, with large narrawood kalasag shields and thick karabaw leather helmets. Spears are the mostly used weapon, with a kalis as a sidearm. They are usually the frontline, made to counter powerful fire and cavalry, while the pangil units use arquebuses and muskets to pick off the enemy line.
The special unit of Pating are mostly limited to the naval legions of the 4th and 5th. These naval legions also constitute the navy, and even the Al-Kaigian Emperor himself cannot argue that these men of the sea “are all Zuhayras needs, and more”. These warriors of the ocean are masters of naval movement and sailing, with an intricate knowledge of barrier reefs and edgy coasts. The Pating units are known for their heavily tattooed bodies (similar to Maharlika), so much so that they treat the tattoos as clothing (as was their native culture). They rode on karakoas, a native invention (of which the Zuhayran Naval Legions use more than Al-Kaigian ships), with recent karakoas being outfitted with lantaka cannons. These karakoas were a match even for the hardsteel turtleships of the Giroan navy, mostly because of its speediness and the mastery of the crew over the sea.